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The Shelby County Commission voted to accept $20 million as a partial settlement as part of a statewide effort to crack down on the opioid epidemic.
In March 2021, Memphis city officials filed a federal lawsuit against a group of opioid manufacturers and distributors for their role in fueling the opioid influx that has significantly affected Shelby County communities.
The Tennessee Department of Health has labeled Shelby County as a high-impact area, with opioid overdoses accounting for more deaths than fatal car accidents in 2017, according to the Shelby County Health Department.
In doing so, Shelby County joined other local governments in litigation against opioid manufacturers and distributors. In May 2021, Gov. Bill Lee signed into law a plan to allocate the funds received from opioid litigation settlements by Tennessee local governments into a unified account.
“I think this is favorable for the citizens of Shelby County,” said Commissioner Willie F. Brooks.
“I think there are further settlements ahead of us as well. This is only the start,” he added.
Defendants in the lawsuit agreed to settle for $26 billion, with Attorney General Herbert Slatery announcing an deal between state and local governments and three major pharmaceutical distributors – Cardinal, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen – to resolve litigation over the companies’ role in creating and fueling the opioid crisis.
Tennessee joined the multi-state settlement along with 47 states, totaling 4,000 lawsuits.
Since then, seven counties in East Tennessee and one city in West Tennessee have filed separate lawsuits against the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. for its role in the opioid crisis.
Settlement funds will go into the Tennessee State-Subdivision Opioid Abatement Agreement for the state and local governments to use for opioid abatement programs.
Shelby County Commissioners will vote again on the resolution during the Shelby County Commission’s full session on Jan. 24.
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